Much more than hardware


It's not exactly a hardware store, and it's not exactly a furniture store, and it's not exactly -- well, how would you describe a store that offers aluminum dustpans, cast-iron bin pulls, flashlights, garden tools, Jenny Lind spool beds, leather furniture, and dozens of styles of house numbers and drawer knobs? Even though it has "hardware" in its name, Restoration Hardware Inc. is more of a lifestyle store, where good taste, nostalgia and whimsy mingle freely.

But you can figure out for yourself what it is when the company opens its newest store in Columbia. The store, which will have about 7,000 square feet of retail space, is expected to open Friday in the Mall, 10300 Little Patuxent Parkway.

Restoration Hardware stores have a reputation for being elegant and eclectic -- a $3,000 sofa may be displayed next to a pair of $15 gloves. "We approach functional objects as decorative accessories," Steve Gordon, president and CEO, told House & Garden magazine. Although the chain has expanded from one store in Northern California to more than 60 in two dozen states and the District of Columbia, Gordon still writes the little placards that cheerfully, sentimentally or flippantly describe almost every object in the store. For a catalog or more information, call 800-762-1005.

A passage to India

Whatever the word "India" conjures up in your mind (probably something from the movies), it most likely will not be like anything you see in the pages of "Indian Interiors," edited by Angelika Taschen, with photos by Deidi von Schaewen and text by Sunil Sethi (Taschen, 1999, $39.99).

There are kingly palaces (of the maharajah of Jaipur and the maharajah of Jodphur, to name two), and then there are the mud houses of Jaisalmer, in the Thar Desert in Northwest India. The diversity is stunning. There are ancient dwellings, and houses of New Age modernism. One of the most startling sights is the Art Deco Morvi Palace in Gujarat, built in the 1930s. It seamlessly blends, in one bedroom, blue and silver steel and mirror furnishings, a traditional rug with a blue background and an ornate traditional Indian mirror. In contrast, there is the stark cell that Mahatma Gandhi occupied at his ashram in Ahmedabad. Whenever you look at this book, you will come away feeling you have been on a journey.

Lighting the way

Are you one of those people who leaves Christmas lights up all year because you love the way they look? Is your deck rail lined with strings of little white lights? Thanks to a company in Durango, Colo., called Primal Lite Inc., you can now string season-appropriate lights everywhere inside and outside your house.

The lights come in a variety of shapes -- from hearts or roses for Valentine's Day to bunnies-and-carrots for Easter, to ghosts and skeletons for Halloween. But you can also get smiling half-moons, lobsters, chili peppers, autumn leaves and butterflies. And, oh yes, Christmas-type lights.

The lights generally have 10 bulbs, and are doubled-plugged so you can add strings. They cost from $12.99 to $15.99. Two specialty shops in Maryland that carry the lights are Flamingo Flats, 100 Talbot St., St. Michaels, and Twigs & Teacups, 111 S. Cross St., Chestertown. They're also available at Target, Spencer Gifts, some Wal-Marts and some Kmarts, and directly from the company at 800-473-6494.


* The National Capital Dahlia Society will hold its 64th Annual Dahlia Show and Competition this coming weekend at the Visitors Center at Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glen-allen Ave., in Wheaton. Show hours are 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 301-949-8230.

* Take in the Fall Color Weekend at Metzler's Garden Center. Sessions are Perennials for Fall Color, 10 a.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday; Fall Color With Trees and Shrubs, 1 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday; and Mums, 2 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Metzler's is at 10342 Owen Brown Road in Columbia. For more information, call 410-997-8133, or check the Web site,

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